Evergrande, Zhetyssu showdown at Asian Women’s Club Championship final
Dac Lac, Vietnam, May 4, 2013 – China's Guangdong Evergrande and Kazakhstan's Zhetyssu set up a final showdown at the 14th Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Buon Ma Thuot on Saturday.
Evergrande and Zhetyssu are remaining unbeaten teams in the eight-team, week-long tournament, with the former making a perfect sweep, not dropping a set en route to Sunday’s final.
Evergrande defeated Bo Tong Gang of DPR Korea in straight sets (25-20, 25-16, 25-14), while Zhetyssu had a daunting task to come from behind against the spirited PFU Blue Cats squad from Japan. Zhetyssu prevailed in a hard-fought five sets (21-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-16, 15-11).
Lang Ping's Evergrande had a shaky start in the first set as they could not hit in form against Bo Tong Gang. The former eventually got its rhythm and finished the match in straight sets, just like their previous encounter in the preliminary round.
Jong Jin Sim, who scored a match-high 43 points in the previous match against hosts Lienviet Postbank, continued to be Bo Tong Gang's main weapon - attacking explosively right from every corner. Evergrande counter-attacked with lightning-fast spikes from the 195cm Chinese player Xu Yunli and Italian hitter Carolina Del Pilar.
Bo Tong Gang appeared to be Evergrande's toughest opponent so far in the competition as Evergrande have kept the rest of their opponents at bay - limiting them to score less than 20 points in every set. Bo Tong Gang is the only team that have achieved to reach the 20th marker but nonetheless still fell short against the Chinese powerhouse.
The straight-sets victory carried Evergrande to their first appearance in the final, but the 10th time that a Chinese club has been in the final of this annual competition.
Xu Yunli topscored for Guangdong Evergrande with 17 points, while Jong Jin Sim emerged as Bo Tong Gang’s top scorer with 14 points.
Evergrande’s head coach Lang Ping commented after the match, “We struggled in the first set. Bo Tong Gang came much better this time with good defence. We improved on some tactics to win the first set. We made use of the height advantage to beat them in the last two sets. I’m satisfied with my team’s form."
“We are now in the final. No matter which team we will play in the final, we have to beat them for the title. We have beaten Japan’s PFU Blue Cats before in the first round, while Kazakhstan’s Zhetyssu is strong team with tall players like us. However, to win the championship, we have to beat them,” she added.
The other encounter between PFU Blue Cats and Zhetyssu saw the former get off to a flying start. Though smaller in size, they came out in full throttle to attack the hefty Kazakhs with their amazing speed and exceptional tactics to win the first set 25-21.
As the PFU Blue Cats excelled in defence, the rivals came up with solid blocks and sharp cross-court spikes. The Kazakhs took the second set 25-19 and the Japanese hit back gallantly to win the third set 25-22.
The error-prone performance in the fourth set caused PFU Blue Cats significantly when they went down miserably and gave Zhetyssu to force a tiebreaker 25-16. The decider saw Zhetyssu in their rhythm to attack relentlessly and captured the thrilling set 15-11.
Tatyana Pyurova bagged 21 points including 15 kills for Zhetyssu, while Mao Kawakami scored a match-high 23 points for PFU Blue Cats.
Chinese Taipei came out in full force to put it past the fighting Giti Pasand of Iran in straight sets (25-13, 25-23, 25-17) and Vietnam’s Lienviet Postbank beat Thailand’s Idea Khonkaen in a marathon 102-minute five sets (25-9, 22-25, 17-25, 25-16, 18-16).
Giti Pasand remained winless in the competition but fought well in a tough match against Chinese Taipei.
Chinese Taipei took the opening set 25-13 as Giti Pasand struggled on their first-ball reception and attacking errors. The Iranians regrouped and coped well with Chinese Taipei in the second set but fell closely on a 25-23 battle favouring Chinese Taipei.
Chinese Taipei dominated the third set even though Giti Pasand tried to make a comeback. Giti Pasand could not match Chinese Taipei's intensity and succumb to the latter's 25-17 onslaught.
The left-hander Chen Wan-Ting topscored for Chinese Taipei with 18 points, while Maedeh Borhani scored nine points for Giti Pasand.
The last match was between Thailand League champions Idea Khonkaen and the hosts Lienviet Postbank left the crowd with so much anticipation.
As Idea Khonkaen aimed high to avenge its preliminary round loss to Lienviet Postbank, the latter also wanted to prove that they are playing with a higher standard in this competition.
Having home court advantage, Lienviet Postbank grabbed the good opportunity as the Thai team's nerves began to fray in the opening set, resulting to a completely dominated first set 25-9.
The Thai team finally put their acts together to overcome Lienviet Postbank in the next two sets (25-22, 25-17) to get a 2-1 set advantage.
Do Thi Minh gave the hosts a successful comeback in the fourth set when she carried out thundering attacks to lift Lienviet Postbank back in the match 25-16 and force Idea Khonkaen to a tiebreaker.
The fifth set was very thrilling from start to finish as both sides were all-out to win the set.
Tapaphaipun Chaisri won a crucial point for the Thai team 16-15 from an explosive spike at the wing, and needed only one more point to win this match. But the Thai team let the win slip through their fingers as the hosts tied the match 16-16 and fought back bravely by unleashing aggressive attacks and excellent blocking to seal the victory in favour of Lienviet Postbank 18-16.
Do Thi Minh led Lienviet Postbank with 23 points, while Tapaphaipun Chaisri scored a match-high 19 points for Idea Khonkaen.
Commenting on his team’s performance, Idea Khonkaen’s head coach Banjong Sombat said, “We played bad in the first set. I think my team played nervously, having much pressure taking on the hosts. Our first-ball reception did not live up to my expectation. We did well in the second and third sets when my players combined well for attacks and blocking. It’s a pity we could not win the deciding set although we had a chance."
“On some critical moments, my players remained nervous and made several unforced mistakes. I praise hosts Vietnam for their great form in this tournament. We learned a lot from this championship. Our last match against Giti Pasand is not that easy. They also played well although they have not yet won a set. We have to train well to make sure we can beat them in the playoff on Sunday.”
Sunday, May 5, 2013
13:30: 7th-8th: Giti Pasand (Iran) vs Idea Khonkaen (Thailand)
15:30: 5th-6th: Taipei (Chinese Taipei) vs Lienviet Postbank (Vietnam)
18:00: Bronze medal match: Bo Tong Gang (DPR Korea) vs PFU Blue Cats (Japan)
20:00: Championship match: Guangdong Evergrande (China) vs Zhetyssu (Kazakhstan)